Sakiewicz Raises Region's Intl Profile

When Councilman Jim Kenney held a public hearing last week to explore ways of increasing international flight options to and from the Philadelphia International Airport, soccer was called in to testify. Well, a representative for soccer that is; Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz.

As the world’s most popular sport, soccer is the definition of a global game. With Philadelphia Union set to begin play in just over two weeks and Philadelphia bidding to host the FIFA World Cup™ in either 2018 or 2022, Sakiewicz, who also serves as Co-Chair of the Philadelphia Host City Bid Committee, was asked to speak about the potential impact of improving the region’s gateway to the world.

“Increasing the number of international flight options would help enormously in our larger mission to enhance Philadelphia’s global reputation,” said Sakiewicz. “For soccer fans, this initiative would boost our FIFA World Cup™ Host City bid as well as attract more high-profile clubs to come play in Philadelphia, not to mention providing added convenience for residents who travel abroad and invaluable benefits for local businesses. It would really be a win-win for Philadelphia Union and the Greater Philadelphia Region.”

Currently, the Airport is one of the largest economic engines in Pennsylvania, generating $14 Billion annually in the local economy. However, the Airport does not offer as many international flight options as other airports in the region and could do more to elevate customer service resources for foreign visitors. Increasing the number of international flights would benefit residents, better serve and attract businesses, and help the city spike tourism, conventions and global appeal. In addition, enhancing passenger services with multi-lingual signage and interactive kiosks for travel and tourism information would improve the overall customer experience. For Philadelphia Union fans worldwide, a contingent that will surely grow as the months and years pass, an increase in accessibility would make trips to PPL Park in Chester, PA that much easier.

"Expanding international flight options and improving passenger resources at PHL would better position the airport to attract more tourism, bolster business, and better serve our residents," Kenney stated. "Currently, limited flight options cause many potential visitors to choose a different destination and our own residents and businesses to use nearby competitor airports. Improving these areas would have a direct impact on improving convenience and boosting our economy.”

Councilman Kenney understands that Philadelphia Union is already becoming a major part of Philadelphia’s global reputation, one reason why Sakiewicz was called in to help explain the importance and tangible benefits of improving access to the region.

"Philadelphia Union is an exciting addition to Philadelphia that will certainly enhance our City's global image,” Kenney added. “They are a clear example of why it is important for Philadelphia to focus on becoming a more accessible city, as they will attract international attention, tourism, and enthusiasm."

That enthusiasm will be on display in just sixteen days when Philadelphia Union play its first match ever against the Seattle Sounders. If the efforts of Councilman Kenney, Sakiewicz and many others bear fruit, it’ll be easier for Philadelphia Union supporters across the globe to fly into Philadelphia to show their enthusiasm at a future match. Philadelphia soccer fans would also be treated to even more top-flight international soccer in their backyard and quite possibly World Cup matches down the road. Most importantly though, the continued emergence of Philadelphia as a major international city would be properly supported. And that’s a goal well worth fighting for.